Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Spider-Man 2

Monday, June 28, 2004

And now the exciting conclusion to our tale: my a/c is fixed and my radio works again. Hooray! Call off the Best Buy boycott. Or not, I don't care.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Napoleon Dynamite

Story of the Weeping Camel

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Hey kids, do you like the cartoons? Do you like the funny slam poetry? Check out my pal Genevieve, who has been converted into cartoon form to perform her smash hit "Mrs. Kuempel" at Slamchannel.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Book now up on Amazon. How long should I wait before writing my first fake rave review?

Also, heard back from Best Buy guy. He has procured the necessary part, and if all goes well I will have air conditioning and a working radio by Friday and they will be off my shit list.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Well, I seen that there Fahrenheit 9/11 this morning and hereby courageously give it a mixed review. I wasn't too impressed with the first part, which sketches (that's the right word, I think) the relationship between the Bushes, the Saudis and the bin Laden family. It played too much like a cable access documentary of the Alex Jones variety, and I was never clear on how far Moore meant to take all the conspiracy innuendo. (A montage of photos of the Bushes with various men in Arab garb made me a bit queasy. A little racial profiling, there, Mikey?)

The Iraq stuff is more solid because, well, Bush and co. have given themselves more than enough rope so Moore can just let them hang themselves. But of course he can't really do that, cuz he's Michael Moore, so even though it's true that he's offscreen a lot more than in his previous movies, there's still plenty of narration in that hangdog style of baby talk he favors that drives me bugfuck.

As with Bowling for Columbine, the best stuff is the found footage, plenty of which I had not seen before (though I may have blinked when the controversial beheading was onscreen, or it may be gone - in any case, I didn't see it, though there's certainly no shortage of gruesome video from the front lines). He also spends a lot of borderline exploitative but nonetheless moving time with a woman from (where else) Flint, Michigan whose son was killed in Iraq. And except for one mercifully brief bit where he tries to get congressmen to sign their children up for battle, there's little of his Punk'd shenanigans.

So yeah. It's a confused movie. Worth seeing, I think, but I dunno if you want to battle the first weekend crowds even if MoveOn.org wants you to.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Best Buy rants seem to be all the rage these days, so I thought I’d chime in with my own (still in progress). Last weekend I had a CD player installed in my car at the local Best Buy. A day or two later while tooling around town, I tried to use my air conditioner. Nothing happened. Now, my a/c doesn’t exactly refrigerate the car even under the best conditions (which are at night; during the day the greenhouse effect pretty much cancels it out), but I still need the damn a/c, if only for its defogging capabilities. I brought it back on Saturday, and the guy who had installed it gave me the runaround for a few minutes. First he claimed that he had tried the a/c after installation and it worked, but that dog wasn’t gonna hunt. Then he tried to put me off for a few hours, saying other cars were ahead of me in line. Well, that was reasonable on the day I had it installed (I killed the time next door at the multiplex watching Troy) but since this new problem was their fault, I didn’t see any reason I should have to wait again (this time I would have been stuck with Dodgeball).

So the guy went to work on it and eventually figured out that the switch was broken, something that presumably happened while he was taking the dashboard apart or putting it back together. He tried to jerry-rig it with some new springs, but that didn’t work. So he said he’d order a switch and then come in on his day off to fix it. (Hey, nice try with the guilt trip, but I’m the one driving around in the Texas heat with no a/c, dude.)

Then, driving around yesterday, I realized the radio now doesn’t work. So I dunno, I guess this guy disconnected the antenna or something while not fixing my air conditioner. It’s becoming a bigger pain in the ass by the minute. Anyway, I gave the guy two days to call me, which he hasn’t done. So I just called and left him a message. Stay tuned for further developments.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Hick Flicks mania is sweeping the nation! And by "sweeping the nation," I of course mean that one or two people have heard of it now. Here's a mention of it at reason.com's Hit and Run blog. (Scroll down to "The 4000 Errors of Doctor Who." Yes, my publisher is also releasing a comprehensive guide to Dr. Who bloopers. There goes my next book idea down the tubes!)

The 24th Day

Yeah, I know. All I've done this week is post links. I'm, um, recharging my batteries! Yeah, that's what I'm doing. It's certainly not laziness or anything of the sort. Perish the thought!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Well, it's about time! One of my favorite films is finally coming to DVD.

Here's my Film Threat piece on the Slacker 10 Year Reunion.

Around the World in 80 Days

Monday, June 14, 2004


(If the Star-Telegram site tries to make you register before you can read these reviews, don't forget about your good friend Bug Me Not.)

Thursday, June 10, 2004


(supply your own kitty litter joke)

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Yeah, I'm late with the promised season five wrap-up, but what with the round-the-clock Ronald Reagan tributes, I can't seem to tear myself away from the cable news channels long enough to finish it. But I'll have it up by the end of the week. Meanwhile:

You are BARTON FINK! A sensitive soul who wants to
create a new living theatre for the common man,
you are forever distracted by peeling
wallpaper, beautiful women and decapitations.
The life of the mind...it isn't easy.

What Coen Brothers character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, June 04, 2004

I'm always the last to know. Looks like my book is due out in the fall:


Top 10 Sopranos Episodes

I was going to post this a couple days ago, but kept wanting to make it better. Well, I never managed to do that, so I’m just gonna post it anyway. I limited myself to the first four seasons because I’ll need some distance from the current one before I can rate the episodes accurately. (Hey, this stuff is important.) So on Monday I’ll list the top five for the fifth season, along with any finale thoughts. And then no more Sopranos for at least a year and a half.

10. College This one is almost too obvious, but I think it has to make the list. It’s probably the most successful self-contained episode – one that works as a mini-movie even if you haven’t seen the show before. Mob boss takes his daughter on a tour of colleges in Maine, spots rat, must whack rat while still balancing fatherly duties. Meanwhile, his wife is back home in New Jersey getting a little too friendly with the priest. The Sopranos universe has gotten so populous these days that “College,” which gets by with four or five characters, looks almost quaint. Still, Tony catching up to the rat is probably the moment that hooked most of us for good.

9. University The logical follow-up, I suppose. (I’m still waiting for the episode “Grad School.”) Perhaps the most unrelentingly bleak and nasty episode, this one highlights the short, miserable life and untimely death of Bada Bing stripper Tracee. The first big showcase for violent creep Ralph Cifaretto, “University” also provides a more refined grade of brutality in its depiction of Meadow’s unbearably smug boyfriend Noah.

8. Commendatori Or “the one where they go to Italy.” I’ve read that David Chase was unhappy with the way this one turned out, but I think this is one of the great culture clash episodes, as our macaroni-and-gravy gangsters find themselves out of their element on the boot. Featuring Paulie’s immortal announcement, “I’m gonna hoof it back to the Excelsior. I gotta take a wicked shit.”

7. Whoever Did This After a slam-bang start, the fourth season hit a lull with a series of episodes padded with too much information about the relationships of secondary characters (the infamous “Karen’s ziti” stuff between Janice and Bobby, Ralphie’s bizarre proclivities, Furio and Carmela making googly eyes). That made the ninth episode, in which Ralph loses his head for the last time, all the more jolting. Beyond the gruesome procedural details of body disposal, there’s the bizarre, unsettling yet funny one-act play between Tony and Christopher that takes up the second half of the show. Plus Uncle Jun pretending (or not) to be crazy.

6. Isabella Tony rouses himself out of the depths of depression as only he can – by taking out the hit men hired by Uncle Junior to finish him off. The attempted hit at the newsstand is the centerpiece, but Tony’s medication-induced hallucinations of the Italian exchange student next door gave us our first extended tour of his psyche.

5. D-Girl Another great clash of cultures, when the Jersey mobsters meet their match in the form of Hollywood sharks. I’ve never been shaken down by goombahs, but I’ve met my share of Amy Safirs and this episode nails that type to the wall. And I dunno, there’s something deeply satisfying about seeing Christopher terrorize Jon Favreau. This was also probably the last time I was happy to see my former future ex-wife Janeane Garofalo on my television. “I never had an egg cream.”

4. Pine Barrens Everybody’s favorite fable of mobsters lost in the woods. The episode that launched a million “Whatever happened to the Russian?” jokes. But don’t forget, this one also features the first big Gloria Trillo meltdown, where she bounces a London Broil off the back of Tony’s head and lives to tell about it. For a while anyway.

3. Funhouse This season’s dream episode apparently pissed off a lot of viewers, but where were they when the second season finale aired? A bout of food poisoning sends Tony deep into his subconscious, where a talking fish tells him what he’s known all along – Big Pussy is a rat. Chock full of good stuff: the whacking of Pussy (pardon my French), Artie’s discourse on Indian cooking, realistic fart noises, and a killer closing montage that neatly sums up the relationship between family business and Family business.

2. Whitecaps Edie Falco won every award short of the Nobel Prize for her performance in this one, and I still think she was shortchanged. The emotionally overpowering fights between Tony and Carmela make this one a classic, but “Whitecaps” also set up the Johnny Sack feud and gave Tony a worthy adversary in slimy attorney Alan Sapinsly, who receives his comeuppance in surprising, hilarious fashion.

1. The Knight in White Satin Armor Everyone knew Richie Aprile had to go, but he – and we – never saw it coming until it was too late. The perfect blend of noose-tightening suspense and pitch-black comedy. As Bobby Bacala says, “I’m in awr of you.”

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Scene From an Unproduced Screenplay
Momentarily Amusing Thing I Found While Looking For Something Else


Richie tears up his lottery ticket and throws the pieces in the air.

Stan enters, looking downcast.


Hey. What did the lawyer say?

He won't take the case. He said he found me to be "an exceedingly crapulent individual."

He found you to be crapulent? Is that even a word?

I don't know.

I'll look it up.

Richie picks up a dictionary and begins thumbing through it.

Whatever it is, it can't be good. This is a lawyer talking. And I was going to pay him. Imagine what people I don't pay must think of me.

Richie finds a dictionary entry.

There's "crapulous." Meaning to be sick from excess consumption of alcohol. Were you hungover? Maybe he said "crapulous."

Oh, what's the difference? I'm going to jail for a hundred years and we're both going to be dead by the end of the week.

I wish you wouldn't say things like that. It makes me feel all crapulous.

Okay. Don't panic. We're not finished yet. There's got to be a way...

Stan starts pacing, rubbing his chin, deep in thought. Richie watches him warily.

(snaps his fingers)
Wait a second! I've got it!


The Joker's Hideout!

What about it?

It's a bar, right?

Yes. It's a bar.

They sell beer there, right?

Yes they do.

So what we do is, we go there and drink beer.


And then we'll be drunk!

Mmm. This is your plan?

This is my plan.

You realize, of course, that your genius won't be appreciated until years after your death.

Yeah, that's the sad part. Come on, let's go.

So wait, you’re telling me it’s June already? How did that happen? Five months worth of 2004 already down the tubes. I hope I’m never asked to account for it all in a court of law or before the throne of judgment or anything. What can I say? There have been some successes and some failures. Some times to remember and some I’d like to forget. I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve never been to heaven but I’ve been to Oklahoma. In summary, 2004 thus far: I shrug at thee.

I think I need a new project. And I still haven’t figured out what to do with this place. The Sopranos stuff seems to be getting a lot of hits, so I’ll probably go Mobster Mountain for the next few days leading up to the finale. After that, I dunno. Maybe I’ll become a really angry and factually-challenged columnist with no discernable political viewpoint. I’ll attract a rabid following of people who can’t make up their minds what they think about anything but just know they’re really, really angry. Then I’ll solicit donations from them.

Either that or just post more pictures of my dog.